Comparative penetration with pellets
by B.B. Pelletier
A reader named “Turtle” asked the following questions.
Wow, thanks for the elaboration on my suggestion. It propted me to sign on. I’ve been enjoying the review of past articles today and am wondering if you could offer info on basic penetration expected for .22cal Beeman Kodiak at various speeds. I was very surprised to hear the SS being used on pests as large as rabid dogs. Or how about a chart with prey size vs muzzle power recommendations.
Penetration varies with the pellet
Read the test report on Pellets vs Round Balls. I can’t say it any better than the pictures in that article show it. Clearly, round lead balls out-penetrate every pellet type that was tested. Only a solid lead pellet that out-weighed the round ball would penetrate deeper. However, is penetration what you want?
The problem with most pellets is they OVER-penetrate game and don’t leave enough energy inside. That is why they fail to kill. A cottontail rabbit is fairly easy to shoot through. So, for them, I would use a domed pellet in a large caliber like .22 or .25.
A squirrel is tough but easy to shoot through. For him, you want a pellet that will expand – and take head shots whenever possible.
Crows and grackles are very tough, their feathers act like a shield. For them, either use a domed pellet in a 20 foot-pound or stonger gun, or use a pointed pellet in a less-powerful rifle.
.177 is great on small pests
For very small game, such as mice and some rats, I would use a .177 wadcutter or even a hollowpoint if it was accurate enough to hit my target. Pest control shooters often use wadcutters for sparrow-sized birds inside large buildings. This is one place where .177 caliber and lower power comes into its own. You don’t want to shoot through the pest and then through the roof or ceiling! It’s best to stick to about six to eight foot-pounds for these jobs, so low power and precision accuracy is what’s needed.
I won’t publish a chart of game animals, but I’ll comment on the sizes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture uses hundreds of AirForce Talon and Talon SS rifles to kill pests all around the country. They shoot everything from small birds up to nutria, which is a water-loving ratlike rodent that infests the levees and marshlands around our country. Louisiana offered a $4 bounty for each nutria tail, which should tell you how much they’re despised. Nutria are 10-lb. animals.
Some airgunners hunt raccoons and woodchucks that grow up to the 20- and even 25-lb. range. For these, you should use more powerful airguns of at least 25 foot-pounds or better. Of course, if you can get a close shot, a lower-powered gun will work.
The state of Hawaii has an airport bird removal program in which egrets are the target. These larger birds are dangerous on runways; and, if they get into the hangars, they poop on the airplanes, which eats through the paint and thin metal skins, requires very expensive repairs.
Finally I come to the comment on rabid dogs. Pest removal services use airguns for these dangerous critters, because if they over-penetrate the animal the pellet doesn’t carry like a solid bullet will. So, pellet guns are safer for urban neighborhoods. For this work, only the most powerful and reliable airguns are used. The AirForce guns are called upon because they collapse and store in a small space until needed, but other powerful airguns like the Career 707 are also used.
Now, for Kodiaks
Regarding Kodiak performance…the Beeman Kodiak is a domed pellet, so it penetrates like one. In other words, not as deep as a round ball in the same caliber. However, the Kodiak is also extremely heavy, so it penetrates deeper than most domed pellets. In .22, it’s one of the leaders. In .177, it’s close to the Crosman Premier. In .20, the Premier is way ahead of the Kodiak.
The extra weight of the Kodiak makes it an effective long-range performer, too. Except in .20 caliber, it’s a leader in long-range performance, which includes both accuracy and penetration. The .20 is a great pellet, too, but it’s not as heavy as the others in their respective calibers.
Accuracy and shot placement mean more than penetration. Practice placing your shots until hitting the target is a given, and you can become a responsible airgun hunter.